Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, said the measure was proof that penalty enhancements can be an effective tool. But Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, who said she opposes penalty enhancements in general, echoed Evans in saying it was about support for workers rather than increasing penalties.
Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, also opposed the bill and enhancing penalties in general.
“If we want to help the front-liners, let’s give them and their families some protection, some health care and a pay increase,” she said.
The measure did not directly reference COVID-19, but the penalty enhancement would be in effect “during a disaster declared by the governor, or a state of emergency declared by the mayor of the municipality in which the merchant is located, due to a public health emergency and for a period of six months after such declaration.”
In the Senate on Saturday, Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said the measure could be reexamined by lawmakers in the fall veto session to make any necessary changes.
“I think it’s really important that we support those essential workers who are being attacked with some stricter penalties,” she said. “None of us in the Senate Black Caucus, of course, love these enhanced penalties, but we do know that we’re in a crisis and we have to act on this in this way.”